OXFORD, Miss. - The trio of KJ Buffen, Devontae Shuler and Breein Tyree outscored Norfolk State by themselves, combining for 56 points in Ole Miss Basketball’s 68-55 win Tuesday night at The Pavilion. On the other side of the floor, the Rebels (2-0) limited a team averaging 96.5 ppg to a 32.7 percent (17 of 52) clip from the floor thanks in large part to their 1-3-1 zone defense.
Buffen tallied a career-high 23 points and matched his best night on the glass with nine rebounds to lead Ole Miss in the win. The Gainesville, Georgia, native could not be stopped in the second half, scoring 15 points over the final 20 points. Tyree added 21 points for his 23rd career 20-point game, while Shuler recorded 12 points to go along with team highs in assists (5) and steals (4).
As a squad, the Rebels shot 51.0 percent (26 of 51) and dominated the paint 38-20. Defensively, Ole Miss recorded 12 steals and forced 17 turnovers to lead to 24 points. Just like on the offensive side of the court, the veterans paced the Rebels on defense. Along with Shuler’s team-high four steals, Buffen and Tyree collected three each.
Devante Carter scored 12 points off the bench for the Spartans (2-1), while Jermaine Bishop and Joe Bryant added 11 apiece.
Ole Miss held an early 11-7 advantage before a 9-0 run by Norfolk State flipped the script into the visitors’ favor. The Spartans maintained the lead before Shuler drained his second of back-to-back threes with three minutes left in the first half, pushing the Rebels back in front, 32-31. Ole Miss closed the half on a 14-5 run, turning a four-point deficit into a five-point lead, 40-35.
The starting backcourt of Shuler and Tyree combined for 24 of the Rebels’ 40 first half points, tallying 12 points apiece. The Rebels connected on 51.7 percent (15 of 29) of their first half shots, including a quartet of three-pointers. Ole Miss took advantage of Norfolk State’s six turnovers, converting them into 12 points.
Ole Miss remains at home for its next contest. The day before the Ole Miss football team battles No. 1 LSU in the final home game of its season, the basketball Rebels square off against Western Michigan (Nov. 15). The game will be the back end of a doubleheader with the Ole Miss women’s basketball team battling New Orleans to begin the day. Tipoff for the men’s game is slated for 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.